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Neurology time!

Not much to say other than today I have my appt with the neurologist…and I’m so, so scared!!!

We’ll be getting picked up in half an hour, then driving 60 minutes to the hospital…here’s hoping it goes okay ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

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Preparing for my appt

Guys I am SO SCARED about this appt!!!!

I’m not even totally sure why. The day’s gonna be a big day out, which will make me sicker so that won’t be nice…but I’m just so stressed that I’m gonna get fobbed off and not taken seriously again. I just want to get to the bottom of these seizures and to get a diagnosis. I don’t care if I have epilepsy or PNES, I just want to *know* so I can hopefully get treatment that works and we can have a better life…

I don’t want them to diagnose me with epilepsy if they’re non-epileptic seizures, because that means taking strong, pointless medication. But I don’t want them to immediately jump to a diagnosis of PNES based purely on my diagnosis of bipolar, because then my brain could be damaged by so many seizures or they could progress to tonic clonic if untreated. I basically want to be taken seriously and given the right diagnosis!!

I’m so scared about this appt XD

We went to my bf’s parents last night and my new welder’s goggles did really well with the various lights. I had an awful cluster partway through the night, which could have been because a light was flashing down the back/side of the goggles…but I was able to recover from that within about half an hour and enjoy the rest of the night again, slowly returning to normal ๐Ÿ™‚

My partner filmed some of it for the neurologist appt too!

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Oh ffs

Thanks to the inordinate amount of stress I’m dealing with atm, it was always gonna trigger a depressive episode.

But it still really, really, REALLY sucks that it’s happened.

This is the last thing I needed right now ๐Ÿ˜ž

I’m tired of my life being so, so limited. 

I’m tired of having dozens of seizures every day and living with all the after effects. Of living in fear. Of being unable to do anything for myself. Of having so little support from the NHS. Of benefits HEAPING stress onto my already difficult life. Of family & friends being totally oblivious to how awful everything is. Of my parents lacking all caring. 

I’m sick of everything…

I’m already scared of how this depressive episode is gonna go.. I hope it’s ended before Christmas ๐Ÿ˜ญ

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A tough day

Stress and seizure rage today ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

Phoned PIP today to tell them about my seizures (we were waiting until a medical professional had acknowledged they were seizures, but that’s obviously going to take too long)…figured if they won’t acknowledge them as seizures because I’m not diagnosed, they’ll at least see how damaging they are to my quality of life. I was already only one point off the enhanced rate of PIP, so I guess with seizures they’ll have to qualify me.

My partner also called a company about a disabled bus pass. It seems I’ll qualify new, but the easiest way is to wait for PIP’s reassessment, and then use that as evidence. Bloody hell.

Anyway. I got some nice photos (of me and a burnt down house) once everything had stopped being so screwed by seizures.

Sad confused seizey me trying to take a video

Collected re-grouped me, that’s better!

I went off in a rage for an hour. Don’t remember much, cut my finger somehow, then phoned my partner and we talked, eventually meeting up. I hate how abusive I am around seizures with seizure rage, I fucking hate myself for it ๐Ÿ˜ซ

Took some nice photography when we were back together though.

2

A&E, nice staff & negligence

I’ve been having an awful time for seizures.

Ever since autumn hit, and the days are mostly grey and the sun sets earlier, I’ve been having 10+ seizures MORE a day than I usually do.

Saturday was awful. Mid afternoon I was out of it for over an hour, with back to back seizures and being unable to respond or understand anything between them. I was having seizures regularly all day.

At about 8pm we called 111, making it clear they were NOT tonic clonic seizures and I was not in non-convulsive status epilepticus right now. We said we were just concerned abs didn’t know what’s to go four help. The guy said he wanted to call an ambulance to bring me in, and when we said we could get the train there so as not to waste their time, he said he wanted us to travel in am ambulance.

We arrived at A&E at 9.30pm. The paramedics were lovely – asking us about our pets and really putting me at ease. They turned the lights off in the ambulance and put the blue lights on so add to be nicer on my brain. I had four seizures on the way to the hospital.

We waited about four hours at A&E then were seen by a Doctor. He did some examinations, then turned the light off in the cubicle so he could do exams where I’d need to remove my goggles. He did this himself and I didn’t ask him to do so.

He did a pupil reflex test where he shone a light in my eyes, which immediately triggered a seizure. He timed the seizure (45 seconds) and asked my partner if how I was behaving was typical – staring, unresponsive, picking at things.

When I came round he said the light was clearly a trigger, and that these were obviously absence seizures. We told him how I feel before, during, and after, and he said it was all very typical of seizures.

It was so nice to be listened to and understood!

He wanted me seen by a neurologist, but there was no way to do that right now, so he said he’d admit me to a ward and I’d spend the night there.

We were waiting in that room about three hours. Within the first hour I had a blood test, ECG, gave urine, and had blood pressure & temp taken for the 4th time. 

At about 4am we were moved into the hallway. Here the fluorescent lights were extremely bright, and I’d already had 45+ seizures that day so my brain was mush. I began to feel very out of it,  had seizures, felt awful and was panicky. I got a really bad headache and my partner got me some paracetamol. The hospital was full of noisy drunk people which was not being my head. I remember tearfully begging staff to put me somewhere dark.

Just before 5am I was moved to the ward. A consultant Dr came and did reflex tests – no lights, just tapping my joints, getting me to squeeze his fingers etc – he asked for an overview of why I was there and looked at my notes. He commented that a temp reading said I’d had a fever earlier, which was ‘weird’ but ‘probably nothing to worry about’, although he wanted to do a chest xray the next day.

At 5.25am I was left to go to sleep, although it took a long time. I was next to the brightly lit hallway which didn’t help, and the nurses walked about singing, shouting to each other and patients etc.

At 7.15am a male nurse said “turning the lights on ladies”, and fluorescent light flooded the room. I’d slept with my face under a jacket, so I emerged and grabbed my wide brimmed hat and goggles. Almost immediately I started having seizures – the lighting was an obvious trigger, along with only getting one hours sleep, stress, the heavy seizure day the day before, and I hadn’t eaten in 20 hours.

I spent the next 45ish minutes out of it, seizing, and feeling terrible physically – trembling, exhausted, nauseous. I deliberately wanted to ask for help from one of the nurses walking past, but wasn’t aware enough and couldn’t manage words. I finally tearfully stammered to one “the lights are really getting to me”. He turned the light directly above me off.

At another point the nurse who had been assigned to me for the day said “welcome back” as I came around from a seizure. Otherwise I was ignored.

At 9am a Dr and someone else came to see me. He asked how I was, and all I could think to respond was “okay…”. He asked where I lived, and it took me about 10 seconds to work it out and reply. He asked what I did for a living, and I couldn’t work out what to say so said I receive PIP. He then said something truly disgusting: “You’re too young for PIP, no? You should be out and about in the world”.

I was unfortunately too ill to respond and tell him that disability has no age limit. And don’t you think I would truly love to be able to get out in the world, rather than living a life of misery?

He finished with “you want to go home today, yes?”, and I confusedly said yes. Because I did, after I’d Breen seen by a neurologist and gotten help. He then said I was released to go.

The nurse assigned to me came and asked if I had someone who could come pick me up. I was still confused, but said my partner. I called my partner and didn’t know what to say other than come to me haha.

I sat there for a while, not understanding at all what was going on, then gathered my things and tried to find someone to ask if I could leave and wait outside. I just wanted out. I stood in the hallway for several minutes, but was too out of it to understand how to catch anyone’s eye and ask, and everyone just walked past me. I had a seizure, then walked further up the corridor and finally said to a passing woman “excuse me, if I’m being discharged can I go wait outside?” She checked with a nurse and said yes.

I left the ward and walked down a few corridors before having to stop, very confused, and have a seizure. Once I’d come around I started walking, stumbled across an exit sign, and left.

I called my partner to let him know where I was heading, then called my parents. They were furious about how I’d been treated, and my mum insisted on calling the hospital. Staff were happy to speak to her about confidential information to do with me without asking for my consent.

My mum was told several HUGE lies.

  1. That I’d had a CT scan, and the results showed I wasn’t having seizures. This didn’t happen. I never had a CT scan. I didn’t have ANY examinations that could identify seizures. When my mum called back to confirm this, she was told it was a ‘mistake’ and that they can’t be expected to know details of 43 patients at once!
  2. They said that no staff had witnessed seizures in 12 hours of observation, and the reason I was released from the ward was because I hadn’t had seizures that morning. I was able to tell my mum I’d been having many seizures since 7.15am, and one staff member actually referred to them by saying “welcome back”. There were also the paramedics, two A&E nurses, and the A&E Dr who had witnessed seizures.

My mum was furious.

She’s filing a formal complaint for us, so we can rest and recover from the experience. I’m still having a ton of seizures and feel awful everyday, and medical professionals are still refusing to help. 

And I’ve learnt to never go to A&E for my seizures again!!!

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Don’t stop fighting!

If anyone had told me in the last 15 years that I could feel like I do now, I would have told them it was bullshit.

I spent 8 years trying to get help and trying to feel better through the NHS, and for 11 years I was varying levels of suicidal. From attempts and crying so much at night because I just didn’t want to live, to even when I was happy thinking if there was a magic button that would stop me existing, I would push it.

There wasn’t one point in the last almost decade where I would have chosen not to stop existing if I could. I just didn’t see the point in living; feeling okay / manic was followed by huge crushing depressive episodes, and I was never truly happy or stable, or enjoying life.

For years I was told the same old bullshit by neurotypicals who thought positivity was the answer to all my problems – “Oh just think positive! Don’t give up! Happiness is a choice! It will get better!”

Well, when you’ve felt so bad and feel fighting so long, you truly can’t believe that. And being told it repeatedly only makes you feel worse!

Then I started having seizures, dozens a day, and life got even harder. For 18 months I couldn’t go anywhere, and I was learning about myself all over again – what I could do (very little!!), and the list of things I couldn’t do anymore was endless – go out alone, read, photography, travel (bus, car or train), go into shops (supermarkets, vets, museums, bookshops), walk in forests, walks by rivers or the sea. I couldn’t even have the curtains open at home, EVER –ย I lived in darkness.

Then we began finding ways to manage.

My mental health had already improved tenfold just by dropping all medical appts. No meds, no psychiatrist, nothing. For me, this has been the thing that has helped me most. I am not recommending others take this route, but for me it’s been incredibly beneficial!

For 5 years I jumped through every hoop the NHS offered – I took all the meds they threw at me, and lived with devastating side effects. I saw bitchy social workers, incompetent social workers, abusive GPs and scary psychiatrists. I had A&E visits and calls / visits to crisis team were regular. I was a mess.

Then I stopped going to appts, and the pressure was off. Previously I was always terrified of my appts, and began stressing about the next as soon as one was over. I saw my SW every fortnight, I would tell her how suicidal I was and she would do nothing. I didn’t know how else to get help.

By not going to appts, we had to figure it out ourselves, and the constant stress of appts was gone. We banded together, discovered techniques that actually worked (as oppose to all the bullshit SWs suggestions!) and our communication improved. I still have some intense mood swings, but for the first time ever I have stable periods in between, and we muddle through supporting each other.

We even had to find our own way to manage seizures, because the NHS didn’t care – they’re not tonic clonic so obviously don’t affect me at all, right?! Most medical professionals I saw refused to even believe that there were other types of seizures.

And, of course, ย most GPs blamed the ‘symptoms’ on my bipolar and wanted to soley talk about my MH…I would try explain that I have auras, identifiable triggers (including bright and flickering light), and EVERYTHING tallies up to focal seizures. But they wouldn’t even consider it.

They made me go through a completely uneccesary blood test before agreeing to put me on a waiting list to see a neurologist, which will be about 12 months. In the meantime they’re happy to leave me unattended with these seizures, which were (/are) ruining my life. No medication, no support, nothing.

So again, we banded together and figured out huge improvements ourselves.

My seizures are drastically reduced, I feel much more confident about having them in public (see previous post!) and they’re under control even if they’re not technically under control, because I’m still having about 15 a day ๐Ÿ˜›

So with all this shit, for the first time ever,ย life is good!

For any spoonies reading this, my message to you is: If you are struggling, fight for things to get better.

And no, I am not telling you to ‘think positive’ ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m just saying, don’t give up. Keep fighting for improvement, be it trying to eek some use out of the NHS, or finding things that work for yourself.

If you have a significant other, TALK!! Sound things off against each other,ย everything, and problem solve together. Be completely honest about your symptoms, your feelings, and what would help. Ask how they are doing, and what you can try do to support them too. Talk, talk, talk!

If you are disabled and can’t work, find little things to keep you busy and give you structure. I’ve found this really helps me.

Small hobbies that are easy to do include:

  • Adult colouring books
  • Collecting objects (I collect buttons and sea glass!)
  • Caring for pets
  • Hiking / walking (disability dependent)
  • Reading
  • Reviewing things (cider, movies, dog breeds, ANYTHING!)
  • Doodling

I’ve found hobbies that you can sink a lot of time into are super helpful. This could be…

  • Collecting sea glass
  • Volunteering at an animal rescue centre
  • Collecting litter
  • Traveling to beautiful places and taking photos
  • Video games
  • Blogging

Third important point: don’t EVER feel the need to push yourself past your limits.

You know your body and your conditions better than anybody else. If you need a full day lying in bed because your symptoms are crippling, do it. If all you can do in a day is one teeny dog walk, that is perfectly acceptable.

Listening to what your body needs is not ย you being lazy!!

This is something I struggle hugely with. I come from a family where achievement is measured by grades or how ‘good’ your job is. From the time I was 12 there was a ton of pressure on what job I wanted when I was older, and by the time I was 16 this was suffocating. For an adult with disabilities, having that instilled in you is extremely stressful, and left me with constant shame and guilt.

But I’m slowly learning that my disabilities are NOT MY FAULT. I’m doing the best I can and I’m doing asย much as I can. ย If most people were given my chronic illnesses for one day it would floor them, so the fact I walk my dogs, care for my pets, and blog is phenomenal ๐Ÿ™‚

I didn’t ask for this life. I would love to work. But I can’t, and ย I refuse to feel guilty for being ill. My ‘job’ is to keep myself as healthy as possible!

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post anymore haha.

I basically wanted to say that life can get better. That you’re amazing for dealing with the shit as best you can, and ย for knowing your limitations. That if you find help / things that work in unusual places, that’s AMAZING!

I had a GP appt a few weeks ago, and she was awful. She hinted heavily (and repeatedly) that I should get back in touch with MH services…and I was sitting there thinking “fuck you! Why would I *ever* do that?” ๐Ÿ˜›

Every living thing learns through positive reinforcement – we do what works. Keep doing it, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for it โค

 

 

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Spoons, disability, stares

We had some friends stay recently, and boy did it take it’s toll on my body!!

I actually had a really fun time, and the friend who was here longest (four days) was so fantastically great about not putting pressure on us to do things, or on me to recover faster after seizures, but doing basically anything uses way too many of my spoons, so the trip was always gonna leave me knackered XD

Here are some photos of our adventures though!

On the final day I woke after five hours sleep to an awful migraine. I swallowed codeine and paracetamol throughout the day, whilst also trying to force my way through a drastically increased number of seizures…the first four hours of the day (walking our dogs, traveling into town and eating) were awful, but finally I started feeling better and was able to enjoy some museums ๐Ÿ™‚

Our friend really was wonderful, and we noticed him doing several adorable things to help and put us at ease. This ranged from joking about brains being weird, to reminding us he could go off alone if we needed him to, and even catching me as I was falling during a seizure. Having that extra support was really appreciated!

I got a lot of stares one day, a really posh town where when I wore my goggles there last time (this was before we’d written EPILEPSY on the side) we got a lot of stares and rude comments. Well the same thing happened this time…wtf is it with that place?!?

The only comment came from kids, but there were plenty of people (generally older people) who gawked at me unapologetically. One man I stood in front of and stared back until he finally looked away, and my partner also told ย a group of old woman that it was rude to stare.

We also had an old woman who, after I’d left my partner at the counter to pay, asked him “Are they those glasses for dyslexia? Do they have dyslexia?” UUUUGH, MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS!!

It gets exhausting -_-

Today my partner phoned up a helpline to try apply for a disabled person’s bus pass, as we realised we hadn’t tried since I started having seizures. We were told immediately that now I will qualify.

In order to prove that I would be refused a driving license (which is the bracket I fall under for all my disabilities – the others are legally blind, have no arms, can’t walk far, or have a severe learning disability), I first have to apply for a provisional driving license. So that I can be refused.

WHERE IS THE LOGIC THERE?!?

Haha!! So today we went into town and I got a passport-style photo ready to send off for my provisional. The owner of the photo shop was wonderful, we phoned in advance to ask if they could avoid using flash as I have epilepsy, and he said they don’t use flash but there are several lights / machines that are bright or flicker, so to send my partner in and notify him when we got there.

We did just that. When he saw me in my goggles he smiled and said “Wow, you really do have it bad don’t you?!” This wasn’t derisive at all, and made me feel understood. I do have it way worse than 98% of people with epilepsy in regards to how sensitive to lighting I am, and I’d rather that was acknowledged than he gave me some BS positivity!

He turned some things off and took the photos as quickly as possible, and I didn’t have any seizures! ๐Ÿ™‚

I also tried to legally change my name for my bank account today, but the woman assisting us was an a-hole. She said that because our ‘witness’ wasn’t a solicitor it wouldn’t count for anything (this isn’t true, we checked when we were choosing our witness!), and when she got to my title of Mx, she turned to me and said “So you’ve just made that up, have you?”

No, Mx is a title just the same as Ms, Mr or Mrs. It is accepted to stand for Mix, so perfect for a non-binary person like me, and is legally accepted in the UK.

Ugh.

She sent off the forms regardless, but said head office may not approve it as “it has to be witnessed by a solicitor”. Bleh.

Also, my littlest turned one a few days ago! ๐Ÿ˜€

tollersbday6